it's hard to keep track

at bedtime, we always pray for the extended family by name.  tonight, dylan insisted on praying for uncle josh's brother.
i broke the news:  "uncle josh doesn't have a brother.  he has three sisters: aunt tiffany, aunt bethany, and mommy."

"yes, he does!" she insisted.

i thought for a moment.  "are you talking about uncle jerod's brother, chad?"
we just met jerod's family at his and bethany's wedding, and it was crazy how much his brother chad looked like our brother josh.  twenty-something?  check.  coordinating groomsmen suit?  check.  tall?  check.  red hair?  check.  beard?  check.  blue eyes, friendly smile?  check, check.

josh is to the left of my dad, and chad is giving a toast on the right.
i tried to clarify that although he looked like josh, chad was actually jerod's brother, but dylan wasn't having any of my explanations.  "NO." she persisted. "JOSH's brother. the one with the same head."

how can you argue with that?


handmade, fair trade: Noonday Collection {giveaway}

**giveaway closed. HopefulLeigh, you are the winner, lady:)**

One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is Isaiah 58.  I love how it reveals the communal aspect of covenant faith and our deep ties to one another.  I love its imagery [you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings] and rich promises of healing, God's nearness and provision, community restoration, and deep joy for those who seek justice for the poor and oppressed.  I love how it demonstrates God's heart for righting wrongs, shalom, and faith-lived-out.

I can't say for sure when I first became acquainted with Noonday Collection, but when I learned that they got their name from Isaiah 58 [if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will be come like the noonday], I knew they were about more than selling beautiful accessories.

The business grew out of a trip to Uganda and a desire to adopt internationally and provide sustainable income for women there.  Founder Jessica Honegger began selling fair trade goods at trunk shows in Austin, TX to fund her own Rwandan adoption, and she continues to advocate for orphans by:
  • Providing jobs that create a pathway out of poverty for women. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.
  • Help families fundraise for their own adoptions. We give 10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.
  • Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection Foundation gives net proceeds towards orphan care and prevention. 
Every item is made by artisans from all over the world--including refugees here in the U.S.--and buyers can feel confident in knowing that they are paid a just wage, according to fair trade standards.  Plus, the collection is stunning:  ethical, beautiful, and perfect for gift-giving.

Noonday Collection sells direct from their website and though in-home trunk shows. You can even become an ambassador and earn income while benefiting families in the developing world.

Jessica is offering a beautiful giveaway to so much shouting, so much laughter readers: a set of four wood bracelets, painted by hand in Kashmir, valued at $45:

Don't they just look like summer?  They'd be perfect alongside sandals and a sundress.

To enter the giveaway, take a look around the Noonday Collection and comment here on which piece catches your eye.

You can get four additional chances to win if you subscribe to their newsletter (scroll down and enter email at the bottom left corner), like them on facebook, follow them on twitter, or post a link to this giveaway on facebook:  leave a unique comment for each entry.

Although it won't net you extra entries, you are, of course, always welcome to subscribe to my site or follow along in the various capacities indicated by the social media buttons at the top of the screen. ;)

Giveaway ends Friday at midnight, eastern time, and random.org will choose a winner from among qualifying comment entires.  Good luck, friends!


the long road back

"i make this look good"
jim's surgery yesterday went well.  thank you to all who've kept him in prayer!  they repaired the ACL and found no meniscus damage, which means that his recovery ought to be quicker.

he started logging six hours daily on a machine to help keep his knee moving and healing properly.  between the meds and the anesthesia wearing off, he hasn't felt well enough to eat much in two days, but he's able to get around the house ok and is keeping the pain under control, so we're putting those in the "win" column.

may you enjoy a wonderful holiday weekend.  and be sure to check back monday--i have a gorgeous fair trade giveaway that i know you're gonna love:)


i will not forget you


Can a mother forget the babe at her breast,
who grew in her own Body and is sustained by it still?

Nuzzled close and warm,
milk-drunk smiles suggest no.
Aching fullness creates urgency the
fuzziest awareness cannot suspend.

Tender moments nurture intimacy,
embodied grace of Mother-love:

I will not forget you!  See, 
I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Nail-scarred hands ache, too:

O Jerusalem, killer of prophets, 
how I long to gather you as 
a hen gathers chicks under wing.
But you were not willing.

Love, secret-knit and nourished in mystery,
poured out for the prodigal unto the very ends of the earth.

shared with five minute friday at the gypsy mama, imperfect prose at when eden murmurs,
and simple moment, bigger picture at peanut butter in my hair.


steady the knees that give way

jim directs the adventure program at the camp where we live.  he climbs trees; builds ziplines and ropes courses; oversees staff and schedules and horses; and is the first responder in all emergency situations.

he is also having knee surgery tomorrow to repair the ACL he tore this spring.

his job is physically taxing, and summer camp hours and obligations are grueling.  staff training--camp--begins tuesday, day four of his recovery.

if you are the praying sort, would you lift him up in prayer?  the situation and timing are overwhelming, but we remember that our God is a God of healing.  we trust that he will steady the knees that give way, just like he promised.
But for you who fear my name,
the sun of righteousness will rise
with healing in his wings.
And you shall go forth again,
skip about like calves
coming from their stalls at last.
thank you muchly, friends of mine:)


get your bid on: help for joplin tornado relief


the help for joplin auction is live over at bigger picture blogs.  they're adding items every hour today and tomorrow, so check back often.  the more money the raise, the more the salvation army can provide that needy community, so let the bidding wars begin!


it's the end of the world as we know it {and we feel fine}

the world did not end may 21, and in fact, a whole other one may have opened in its stead:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

~e.e. cummings

we love you, sweet bethany and jerod. grace and blessing abounding in your new life as one.


wild kingdom

i'm not a "dog person".  you know how they smell, lick, shed, bark, jump, and get all up in your ladybits?

i'm not really down with that.  

but i'm not a "cat person" either.  the truth is, i don't really like animals much at all. 

*gasp* i know!

now before anyone suspects me of hating my mama, Jesus, and america, too, rest assured i don't wish animals any harm.  they're fine with me in the woods or at the zoo; i just don't prefer sharing personal space with them.

my kids do, so i make exceptions--for at least as long as it takes to snap a photo.

dylan's sharp eyes discovered a little painted turtle amidst the driveway rocks.

our dog wrestled this poor bunny out from under our deck, and our curiosity probably gave it a good scaring too--especially james' grabby hands!--before it hopped out of sight to safety.

the same night, after the kids were in bed, i was picking up toys and almost grabbed this little orangy-brown tree frog off our living room floor.

i tried to catch it, but it jumped under the couch, never to be seen again.

now, these animals are all of the little, cute, unstinky, non-threatening variety that i can deal with handily.  neighbors of ours were awoken the other night to what sounded like a giant jungle cat snarling just outside their window.  something that sounded big enough to eat a dog or cat with room to spare.

we were ruminating about it last night at dinner, and dylan offered this helpful perspective:

"mama, jungle cats don't eat windows, so they can't get you when you are inside. even if they are big enough to eat james."


rest for the restless

jim put james to bed friday and had the kids saturday, too, while i was at our MOPS retreat.  he can be a pretty easygoing kid, and his dad and others have gotten him to sleep without problem, but as we're still nursing, i never leave him fully confident that bedtime without me will go down without a hitch.

as it turns out, i needn't have worried.

apparently, i'm blonde in the back
james and his daddy brushed teeth, put on jammies, and settled in for a story.  jim was about to put him into his crib when james asked for a second book and began rustling through them all, searching intently for one title in particular:  where is mommy?

they read it together, and at the end he kissed my picture, tucked into the back just like he'd remembered. james requested to read it a second time and to take it to bed with him.  he then laid down contentedly and fell right to sleep.

could your heart just melt?

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #258-277

long distance kisses from a sweet boy-babe

a husband happy to help me get away

a wonderful retreat and a great team to pull it off

quiet and conversation

music and worship

chocolate-dipped biscotti (and leftovers for breakfast:)

time exploring the Word together

community and bridge building

new spring green and wildflowers

an attentive staff that enabled weary moms to feel pampered

fears faced head on

"you make people!  you can climb a pole!"

coming home to family and friends sprawled out in the yard, covered in mud, from a day of play and gardening

sabbath rest together

the fact that no matter how good it is to get away, there is always something sweet in coming home

in the interest of keeping it real, i just had to banish my kids to their room so i could finish this ever-loving thankfulness post without blowing smoke out my ears.  life is hard, and i celebrate those shalom moments of wholeness as they come--and repent for the times when i'm the one so quick to shatter it into shards.

grace for this mama

physical space

learning gentleness

always mercy

recognizing eucharisteo, even (especially?) amidst chaos and frustration

holy experience
sharing thanks with ann's gratitude community at a holy experience.

if you'd like to read the happiest mom or win a subscription to parenting: the early years, have i got a giveaway for you.  also, i'm hosting ShoutLaughLove tomorrow; won't you come back and link a story?


you shall build a turtle fence

on mother's day, we saw a turtle.  it looked like a dinosaur.  the babies loved it.  i was scared.  the end.

(if the title of this post rings no bells for you, do yourself a favor and watch what may be the best youtube video ever.  also, i wrote a meatier post today for the carnival of natural of parenting but still wanted to create space for our tuesday storytelling community.  i'm looking forward to checking out your writing!)

sowing seeds of life and love

this born-and-bred suburban girl's heart belongs to the city.

third floor walk-ups, fire escape-only access, slumlords?  count me in, as long as we could ride bikes to a wilco show, order curry, wat, or pho in the neighborhood, and walk to our friend's gallery opening.

our family's semi-rural life today looks nothing like our newlywed years in pittsburgh, but i love the view and tastes from here, too.  it is said that palates change with age, and i know hearts must as well.

this will be our third year gardening, and we're thrilled to be partnering with another family and growing heirloom seeds together for the first time.  we've got tomatoes, herbs, and eggplant growing in the kitchen; lettuces, carrots, rapini, swiss chard and more sprouting outside; and big plans for bean forts for our three babes.

we're learning as we go.  mice ate every single pepper sprout right out of our friends' kitchen, and we didn't know broccoli and cauliflower needed heat lamps until after their stems grew up weak and flopsy.  we'll know better next year.

this summer is the first i'll not be pregnant or tending a newborn. i'm thrilled that we'll all be more involved in growing food together, with friends to make even hard work sweet.

the kids love being outdoors, exploring and digging up worms, and i'm so thankful for wide open spaces for them to relish.  here they don't need anything to entertain them beyond a push on the swing or a fistful of sidewalk chalk.

it's different outside.  i recognize it with each first breath and see it in their wonder-filled eyes as they bring me treasures found and stuff pockets brim-ful with rocks.

we take off shoes to feel the cool grass beneath our feet.


dylan and james both gobbled vegetables as babies and turn their noses up now.  frozen winter veggies are not the same, and looking forward to vine ripe tomatoes and fresh picked peas, still-warm from the sun, i know we can convert them back.

spring is the season of sudden storms, unreal green, and mushrooms growing wild.  jim found these morels, and we spent time yesterday picking dandelion greens for a saute.  the kids didn't eat either, but when our friend brought us fresh picked poke (wild asparagus), james surprised us all by enthusiastically eating it dipped in spicy chimichurri.

all things considered, both kids are bigger fans of our maple syrup than foraged greens, but who could blame them?  between fresh eggs and syrup, we do a lot of breakfasts-for-dinner, and in this season of life (and the year), that's more than ok for us.

we have another fun project in the works this spring:

(click through to view video if viewing rss feed.)

the chicks are staying with neighbors until they're old enough to hold their own with the hens we have now, and they should be mature and laying eggs by the early fall.

i never envisioned life like this but love it for my little ones.  this summer, when i'm cutting greens for salads and the children run about chasing chickens in the yard, i know that there is no place i'd rather be.

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes

{Elizabeth Barrett Browning}

***Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama
Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors. Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting. Please take time to read the submissions by the other participants:
  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn't think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family's simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don't like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer's Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer's Market has become her son's classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment's hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature's Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter's blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it's a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children's generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family's food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don't have a garden? "You can still grow food!" says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she's doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer's MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it's important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn't Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it's never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse "bean teepee" and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin' (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.


a 500th post

so much shouting, so much laughter
{so much shouting, so much laughter} hit a milestone this week--yesterday's post, love to light a night devoid of stars, was my 500th.

it took more than three years, but i can look back through these pages and not only trace a history of my family's life together but the evolution of myself as a woman, mother, and writer. i would not have been so bold to wear that label then, but today i do, and these are gifts worth celebrating.

my 500th post could almost be a companion piece to the very first one, this too shall be made right.  i may not have found my "niche"--there's not one for crunchy-christian-poet-activist-mamas, is there?--but based on some of the comments and readers here, i think we could start our own. who's in? ;)

thank you, everyone, for encouraging this pilgrim along life's way. i am grateful for all types of community, and the one i've found here has been a delicious surprise.

also, i am guest posting today at a deeper story, one of my favorite blogs for the way its community wrestles through the intersection of faith and hard questions. won't you come by and say hello?

peace and joy to you this day, friends.

walk of shame

I parked my car in the dimly lit garage downtown. Holding my keys tentatively, I started to pray.

Please, Lord, don’t let there be protesters. Please, Lord, not today.

If I could just make it down the block, through the unmarked door and into the elevator, everything would be okay. My weary eyes blinked against the bright sun. The street wasn’t busy. A few people waited for buses, and professionals darted past, briefcases in hand. The brunette in a tailored suit and heels was not headed to the clinic for her annual exam. Her skyscraper job surely came with benefits.

The walk sign lit, and I stepped off the curb, tucking my hair behind my ears. It still smelled of espresso from the chain coffeehouse where I moonlighted. I'd hoped graduation would confer an end to latte slinging, but their promise of health insurance was too alluring, and I tacked another twenty hours onto my work week. In just a few more months, I, too, could access birth control without the specter of public humiliation. I'd get my wisdom teeth out, order new contacts and glasses, and stop refusing emergency care, terrified of the cost. It would be a glorious day and tremendous relief.

But this was not that day. As I turned the corner, the clinic door came into view. Mercifully, the way was clear, and I exhaled, realizing I'd been holding my breath. At my next appointment I might still need to psych myself up for a confrontation with demonstrators, but today I was grateful for the quiet.

Plus, I needed to get back to the office soon. The Christian Ed committee couldn’t very well meet without their youth minister.

A version of Walk of Shame once appeared at a storytelling website. It also appears in the 2014 book, Speak.

photo credit


love to light a night devoid of stars

{love note}

lent found me meditating a bit on non-violence and the upside-down Kingdom of God. the story of Jesus' arrest in the garden haunted me in a way it hadn't in previous readings.

the disciples, unwilling to watch and pray with their troubled friend, are willing to fight the armed crowd that arrives later to take Jesus by force. Jesus rebukes his followers for raising their swords and submits to arrest--and ultimately the cross.

although they may have been willing to fight to the death, none wish to follow Jesus down the path he is obedient to walk.  every last disciple flees, willing to do for Jesus the things he does not ask but none of those he does.

in a moment of honesty, i realized that i too was running in the opposite direction: clinging to violence in my words, choosing anger and impatience over kindness and self control.

there's a better Love to model for my kids.  a way of peace that isn't enforced but lived-in-flesh.


my grief was not a cry for war that day in september nearly ten years ago, and an enemy killed sunday brings no cheer.

my sister reminded me of dr. king's words:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie,
nor establish the truth.
Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate....
Returning violence for violence multiples violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?
{sweet babes}

our Good Friday world is a broken, hurting place, but we are an Easter people.

i want my children to know that night only seems to be devoid of stars for a time, beneath the clouds of our limited perspective.  the grave could not keep Christ, and God's Kingdom will come, on earth as it is in heaven.  it's here even now, if we have eyes to see (and hands willing to work to bring it forth.)

there is a crack, a crack in everything : that's how the light gets in

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